Quite often, the question arises of how newborn babies should be handled in relation to water. Some would-be mothers about to have their first childbirth experience really do need to get this answered. To begin, newborn babies do just fine with breast milk as this provides all the fluid babies need to be healthy. Keep in mind that breast milk is 88% water. Drinking water is not recommended until about 6 – 12 months as too much water could cause jaundice or intoxication. For children under 1 year, drinking too much water may be a dangerous practice because it dilutes a baby’s normal sodium levels.
For newborns – under 4-5 weeks, water intake can be risky. Babies under two months old should not be given water, especially supplemental water. Too much water can lead to oral water intoxication. Water supplements fill the baby without adding calories. This can result in insufficient weight gain or weight loss, as water does not give the baby the nutrition it needs to grow. The only special situation of exception is in very hot weather. It may be okay to offer a baby 1-2 ounces of water between feedings because it is understood that your baby may be losing extra water without urinating.
When a baby grows past the newborn stage, water can be introduced but at a very minimal level. Too much water can fill the baby up and interfere with breastfeeding, thereby making him nurse less. When your baby is beginning to learn a cup, you can give him a few sips of water a couple times a day. And when your baby starts eating solids, you may add a few sips of water to help prevent constipation. It is very important to ensure that the water is purified. It is recommended that mothers purify water themselves through boiling for a few minutes and at a minimal heat level. Child health experts advise strongly against feeding babies with industrially purified water or tap water. It’s not safe to expose their immature immune systems to chlorines and other water related elements.
For mothers who wean their infants early (say in the 4th month) and put them on formula, attention must be focused on water and its purity because it is one crucial ingredient to the milk formula. Formula can come ready to drink, which parents can be assured is safe. Formula also comes in powder mixture, needing water for the mixture. Because the latter infants will be in taking so much water through formula, the safety of that water should be the parents’ focus. In an astonishing statistic, infants receive 40-60% of the lead they are exposed to through drinking water, which can cause damages including mental retardation. Nitrate, chlorine, aluminum, and fluoride are other worries for babies drinking formula made with tap water. For this reason, most formula companies recommend boiled tap water. You can never be too careful with the water your baby needs.